Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Thursday, October 4, 2001
ATTORNEY GENERAL CORNYN ANNOUNCES RECORD-SETTING $1.2 BILLION IN CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTIONS
Statewide collections have increased 63 percent in three years
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn announced today that annual child support collections exceeded $1.2 billion for the first time in the history of the Texas child support program. The $1.23 billion collected during the state fiscal year that ended August 31 represents a 63 percent increase over the $757 million collected in 1998, the last state fiscal year before Attorney General Cornyn took office.
The increase of $201 million over last year's collections of $1.029 billion is the largest year-to-year dollar increase in child support collections and follows the previous year's record increase of $161 million.
"I inherited a child support program that was suffering from years of neglect. By putting children first, by improving customer service and by developing innovative programs to strengthen families, we have increased collections by 63 percent. Nothing is more important than making sure the children of Texas receive the financial and emotional support they need and deserve," said Attorney General Cornyn.
The Child Support Division in the attorney general's office uses the latest enforcement tools to ensure that children receive the financial support due them. Innovative measures used to make non-supporting parents live up to their court-ordered responsibilities include income withholding, interception of income tax returns, seizure of assets held in financial institutions and license suspensions.
Not only is the attorney general's office collecting more dollars for Texas children, the agency is doing it more efficiently. The attorney general collects $6 in child support for every $1 spent. This represents a 42% improvement over state fiscal year 1995, when the cost-effectiveness ratio was $4 to $1.
The attorney general's office differentiates between "dead beat" and "dead broke" parents. "Dead beat" parents have the financial resources to take responsibility for their children but refuse to do so. Attorney General Cornyn will use every legal means to make sure those parents pay child support. Non-custodial parents lacking the means to earn a living and pay child support are "dead broke." The Attorney General will refer cooperative dead broke parents to job training and employment referral programs.
Last month the Texas child support program was recognized by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement for national leadership in the areas of child support collections, fatherhood initiatives and client services.
Excellent customer service is another top priority for the Child Support Division. When Attorney General Cornyn assumed office in January 1999, the Child Support Division operated a single statewide customer service call center. In addition to calls made directly to the call center, calls to local child support offices were automatically routed to the call center, creating a tremendous backlog. In a typical month, only 14 percent of the 800,000 calls to a customer service representative were answered. Under the Cornyn administration, the call centers and field offices answer 96 percent of the 600,000 monthly calls in less than thirty seconds, a dramatic improvement over the 14 percent call answer rate of 2 ½ years ago.
Another major customer service initiative is the creation of a Child Support Interactive website located on the main Attorney General website (www.oag.state.tx.us). The public can access the site to obtain information about the child support program, apply for services and access case-specific information from a secure section of the site. In only one year, visits to the website have increased 183 percent from 69,300 monthly visits in August 2000 to 196,403 customer visits in August 2001. For its innovative use of technology, the OAG's Child Support Division was named an "Honors Program Laureate" by Computerworld magazine for leadership in the use of the internet by a government agency.
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